Colour, wit and life abound with a star turn from the Rossini tenor of the moment
Le Comte Ory is the first great French-language comic opera. A late work (Paris, 1828), sensuous, witty and exquisitely crafted, it has always been something of a connoisseur's piece, Rossini's Falstaff, you might say. Vittorio Gui's celebrated Glyndebourne account (EMI, 7/57 - nla) ought by rights to have had a place in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series. Perhaps Naxos will scoop it up when the copyright lapses.
Classic sets can obscure the view. John Eliot Gardiner's fine 1988 Lyon Opéra recording rather languished in Glyndebourne's shadow and the new set, recorded live at last year's Pesaro Festival, could well have suffered the same fate. Not that it is aimed at dyed-in-the-wool collectors. The selling point is the Ory, Juan Diego Flórez, and very striking he is, too. He begins rather severely, more Almaviva than Ory. Would one miss the sly charm and vocal allure of Juan Oncina on the Gui set? Not entirely. Flórez has terrific presence, a well-nigh flawless technique, and a keen sense of the French vocal style. He comfortably outplays Gardiner's John Aler.
Not that Aler was much helped by his production team. Ory may be the master of the subversive running commentary but that is no excuse for placing him to the rear of the stage picture. DG's engineers make no such mistake.
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